How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

Hello friends! Today is the day! On this beautiful second day of fall the kids and I harvested most of our pumpkins from our garden! Those of you who keep up with my blog know that we almost lost all of them to the hurricane a couple weeks back (all the small ones fell off due to the standing flood water in our garden) But somehow the big ones survived! This made my whole year, as I had been planning a huge garden full of heirloom pumpkins for the past two years. No joke! So with a thankful heart, we picked them all today. I can’t wait to decorate with them in our home, but thought that this would be a great time to share what I’ve learned as a novice “pumpkin farmer” this year. And especially How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting.

How To Care For Heirloom "Fairytale" Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

So let’s get started! Again, let me remind you that this is my first pumpkin crop, but I learned so much along the way.

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

We have lots of bunnies in our neighborhood, and while I didn’t have the heart to do anything that would actually hurt Peter Rabbit and his friends, I’ve tried everything from liquid fence, to wolf urine (eww- I know!) But apparently none of that worked, because they were eating the small ones for a while. And then yesterday I was out checking and rotating my plant babies, when our friendly neighborhood bunny (my kids have named her “Bun Bun”) darted out, a couple inches away from my feet… and more importantly, a couple inches away from my large, almost ripe pumpkins.

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

That, plus the first day of fall, convinced me that I was going to have to harvest them sooner than later.

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

A couple of them could have benefited from a couple more days on the vine… and while I did leave several that weren’t ripe enough, I didn’t want to deal with the heartbreak of losing my pumpkins that had survived a freaking hurricane, to a cute little bunny.

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

So they all came indoors with me today- with no bite marks that I saw. Phew.

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

My little helpers cleaned and dried them with me. And it was the BEST memory we have made together in this house to date. So much fun!

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

So here are my tips for processing & cleaning your pumpkins so they stay clean and ripe as long as possible.

How To Tell If Your Heirloom Pumpkins Are Ready To Pick:

  • Try pressing your finernail into the skin. If it punctures though, then it isn’t ripe. If it only dents it, then it’s ready to be picked.
  • Next to every pumpkin on the vine is a curly tendril. If it’s green, your pumpkin isn’t ready. If its turned brown, it’s ready to be picked!
  • Check the color- is it even and bright? If so, your pumpkin is probably ready!
  • Thump your fist on the pumpkin. If it’s dull sounding, it isn’t ready to be picked yet. If it sounds hollow, you can pick it!
  • Also, check the vine on the stem. If it’s turning brown, it’s likely that your pumpkin is ready for harvesting.

 

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

Some Tips For Cleaning & Preventing Your Pumpkins From Rotting:

  • First off, while growing my pumpkins, I placed clean old floor tiles (form our kitchen demo) under them to keep them off the dirt and grass. That helped keep them from rotting on the vine.
  • When harvesting, make sure to cut them off the vine with sharp scissors. Don’t pull, and don’t pick up by the stem even though it looks like it would be a great handle! The longer stem you leave on the pumpkin, the better your pumpkin will last. I suggest 4″ or more. I left some leaves on mine for just today (or while they stay fresh), so I could take some photos while I decorate. But I will be removing them later on.
  • After harvesting, put several squirts of bleach into a spray bottle and dilute it with water. Then spray your pumpkins (full coverage, top to bottom- and do the stem too!) then rinse off, and dry. This kills the bad bacteria that causes rot.

 

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

So there you have it! I can’t wait to harvest some of the seeds from this lot & grow another patch next year!

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

And this little lady and I have some fall pumpkin decorating to do!

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

I think the thing I want to do most with these heirlooms is put them on my front porch.

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

They are so pretty- I wish I could preserve them and use them for forever… becuase having pumpkins out as decor all year long is okay…. right? Asking for a friend.

How To Care For Heirloom Pumpkins: When They Are Ripe To Pick & How To Keep Them From Rotting

Stay tuned for pumpkin decor overload!

See “My Farmhouse Front Porch Decorated For Fall With Homegrown Pumpkins From My Garden”

Also See: “How To Grow Heirloom Fairytale Pumpkins From Seed (DIY Pumpkin Patch!)”

SHOP THE PUMPKINS I GREW & GROW YOUR OWN HEIRLOOM PUMPKINS:

               

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  1. Marsha

    October 25th, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Can you tell me where you got your sink from?

  2. Hannah Hathaway

    October 25th, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I’m going to have to do a blog post about it soon- but its actually an antique cast iron drainboard sink.

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